As one of the countries that joined the race of offering Digital Nomad Visas, the UAE —through Dubai— has announced its Virtual Working Programme on 14 Oct 2020. On the visa provided by this program, you can live in Dubai and enjoy the benefits of being a UAE resident without needing to be sponsored by an employer or invest hundreds of thousands of dollars.
This Digital Nomad visa guide will give you all the essential information about living in Dubai as a digital nomad, the benefits of Dubai’s remote work visa, and an in-depth guide on how to obtain this visa.
What is Dubai Digital Nomad Visa?
The Dubai Digital Nomad visa, officially referred to as the Remote Work Visa, is more or less a mix of the regular Employment Visa and Tourist/Visit Visa. Its main advantage is that it gives you the benefits of being a Dubai resident without the need to be sponsored by a UAE-based employer. The validity of the Dubai Remote Work visa is one year, and the main requirement to make you eligible for this visa is to have a monthly income of $3500 from overseas.
Why Live and Work Remotely from Dubai?
Aside from the shiny touristy attractions and the luxurious facilities, the benefits of living in Dubai as a digital nomad are indeed different. Here are some of the benefits of living in Dubai on the digital nomad Dubai visa:
Safety and Quality of Life: While the cost of living in Dubai is relatively high, the city’s quality of life is worth it. Dubai has a variety of good neighborhoods to live in, from the modest to the high-end to the luxurious ones. The city is a very safe place to live, with one of the lowest crime rates in the world. Its infrastructure is one of the best in the world, and so is its public transportation.
Healthcare System: Dubai offers top-notch medical care facilities. Private and public hospitals are supervised by the Dubai Health Authority, ensuring high-quality medical services in both.
Banking and Digital Infrastructure: Since the status of a digital nomad in Dubai is like that of a resident, you get an Emirates ID that enables you to get the benefits available to a person with a resident visa. You can open a bank account, apply for a loan, rent a house, and get a local phone number. If you have a family, you can also sponsor your family to Dubai on dependent visas and even enroll your kids in school.
High-Speed Internet: A reliable internet connection is the lifeline of remote working professionals. Dubai promises an internet speed of at least 100 Mbps wherever you go. Be it a hotel, rental apartment, co-working space, or a café, be assured that you will get internet speed for uninterrupted video calls and seamless workflow. Free Wifi is even available in the city taxis and metro.
Networking: Besides the growing digital nomad community, Dubai never runs out of meetups, events, workshops, and conferences. Those events can help create a solid professional network. You can also connect with fellow professionals at co-working spaces all over the city.
Tax Benefits: One thing that attracts people to Dubai is its Zero Income Tax policy. The city does not impose taxes on professionals so that you can enjoy your total salary. But you may have to pay taxes in your home country though. So, consult a tax specialist to understand the tax cuts as a digital nomad before you apply for a visa.
Entertainment Options: This is a no-brainer, as Dubai is a home for high-end tourism. You can explore its architectural structures, theme parks, beaches, shopping malls, museums, mosques, art galleries, and cultural centers. Even the neighboring emirates of Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, and Ras Al Khaimah have much to offer. In case you want to travel out of the country, Dubai is an international hub operating direct flights to 254 international destinations.
What are the Dubai Remote Work Visa Requirements?
The application process for the Remote Work Visa is done 100% online. You need to submit scanned copies of the following required documents along with filling out the online visa application form:
Passport: Your passport must have a minimum validity of six months.
Photographs: A digital photo that measures 45mm x 35mm. The photo must be a high-resolution photo, in color, and with a white background. The quality of the personal photo is essential. The system can reject a low-resolution or unclear picture, making your application process longer.
Accommodation Proof: Since you will be applying for a residency visa, you need to provide proof of your living arrangements in Dubai in the application documents. A hotel reservation or a short-term rental contract will do for the application purpose.
Medical Insurance: Health insurance that covers you in UAE is mandatory. Don’t worry if your current insurance doesn’t cover the UAE. You can use SafetyWing’s Nomad Insurance which starts at $45 per month.
Work and Financial Documents: You must provide proof of employment through a work contract for at least a year or company incorporation documents if you are a business owner. Your monthly income should be at least $3500. As proof of income, you will provide a three months bank statement and the previous three months’ pay slips.
What are the Steps to Apply for Dubai Remote Work Visa?
The following are the steps to follow in order to obtain the Remote Work visa, from the start of the application to arriving in Dubai and receiving your Emirates ID. Following these step-by-step instructions will make applying for a digital nomad visa a smooth process:
- Go to the Official Government of Dubai portal, select Issuance of Residency without work permission, then select Issuance of the virtual work residence permit, and click Start Service.
- If this is your first time applying for a Dubai Government Service, you will be prompted to create an account. Otherwise, you can log in using your previously created account.
- Log in, then enter your personal information including name, address, email address, phone number, etc. Ensure you enter the correct information here, as a representative will contact you to move the application forward.
- Attach the required documents. Make sure to attach clear scanned copies of your documents.
- Finally, pay the visa fee. The Remote Work visa fee includes visa processing, application, and Emirates ID charges.
- Keep an eye on your email for 3-7 business days. This is the average time it takes for approval. Once approved, you will receive your entry visa via email. With this visa, you can travel to Dubai to complete the residency procedures.
- After arriving in Dubai, you need to undergo a medical test. This is the first step to convert your 2-month entry permit to a 1-year resident visa. Usually, you get the results within 24 hours delivered to your email.
- After receiving the medical test results, you will receive an appointment date at a biometrics office. Visit the office location received with the appointment on the assigned date. Make sure to arrive on time because you will most likely have to reschedule if you arrive late. The procedure will take 5-10 minutes in total.
- You will receive a resident visa stamp after providing the biometrics. The UAE doesn’t stamp resident visas to passports anymore. You will receive the visa in PDF format.
- After the biometrics, it is about time to get your Emirates ID delivered. You will need this ID to open a bank account, register a SIM card, rent a property, or benefit from any government services. You can track the progress of issuing and printing your Emirates ID from the ICP website, Android app, or iPhone app.
The processing time of the Dubai Remote Work visa can vary based on the time of the year. You may experience some delay if your application will require further verification. On average, the whole process takes from one to two months. After receiving your visa and Emirates ID, you can stay in Dubai for 12 months and reapply for a new one if you want to stay in the UAE for more than a year.
Is it for you?
It is understandable that big cities aren’t preferred destinations for many digital nomads who prefer to live in remote places with surrounding nature. Being based long-term in such a place is better for the peace of your mind, but it may take a negative toll on your career development and lessen the opportunities to grow your professional network.
Basing yourself in a city like Dubai for a year or even less has its own advantages. It is an international business and innovation hub. Thus, living there can help you explore networking opportunities and experience life in this growing metropolis which is a melting pot of cultures and home to people from all over the world. You can also use it as a base to travel around since it is a centrally located international flight hub. So, it might be something worth considering.